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Erdogan lost a battle, but perhaps not the war

The June 7 elections made Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian dreams less certain, but it would be naive to think that he has given them up.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan kisses a handmade Turkish flag, given to him as a gift from Ugandan university student Cemil (not pictured), during a graduation ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, June 11, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas  - RTX1G1TU

The June 7 elections came as a breath of fresh air for millions of Turks who were worried about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s endless temptation for more power. They were not all wrong, for the ballots gave Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) its first major setback in 13 years. The party lost nearly 10% of the votes it had received in 2011, and, more importantly, lost its parliamentary majority. This was a lethal blow to the “presidential system” that Erdogan wanted for himself with a tailor-made constitution. Moreover, it was a safeguard against AKP hegemony in the government, legislation, the bureaucracy and perhaps even in the media.

Many secular and liberal Turks celebrated the election results. Articles in the Western media congratulated Turkey for “saving its democracy.” But one should perhaps be a bit more wary and not rush to join this euphoria. Erdogan probably thinks that he has just lost a battle, not the war. And he may be right.

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